To Repair or Not to Repair Your PCB’s? That Is the Question!
To Repair or Not to Repair Your PCB’s? This Is the question Greasley Electronics are asked on numerous occasions!
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the heart of all electronic devices. PCBs are easy to manufacture in mass quantities and can pack a lot of electronic functionality into a compact space. Greasley Electronics have talked about this before but basically, their space efficiency is achieved by their three-dimensional structure of multiple layers of conductive traces that connect electronic components and insulating material.
When PCBs malfunction, you are faced with the choice of PCB repair, replacing the PCB or disposing of the entire electronic device. In many cases, companies have spent thousands on new machines, imported them from abroad for example £150k and expect them to last forever. If they were looked after and refurbished after 5 years then they WOULD last forever! In most cases, malfunctions are only noticed when they don’t work anymore.
For expensive or custom-built devices, it may not be an option to replace the device and ask yourself the questions, ‘Does it need to be?’ ‘Is it worth an electronics expert looking at it? –Yes, it is. Ask Greasley Electronics for a quotation.
The main benefit of replacing a PCB, particularly if it is an OEM part, is that it will restore the function of your electronic device to its original specifications. For safety equipment, medical devices and avionics, replacing PCBs may be the only way to meet industry standards anyway.
On the other hand, replacing a PCB can be costly and can result in extended downtime if the PCB is not immediately available. It’s also a consideration that it cannot be replaced as they simply are not available anymore.
The main benefit of repairing a PCB is that repair can often be accomplished faster than replacement, depending on the level of damage. Moreover, repair is often less expensive.
How to make a decision
When deciding whether to repair or replace PCBs, consider these factors:
- Replacement cost of the electronic device.
- Purpose of the electronic device.
- Cost of a new PCB.
- Length of downtime while replacing the PCB.
- Length of downtime while repairing the PCB.
- Extent of the repair work needed to restore the PCB.
The first five factors will vary from device to device. The sixth factor, however, is, ask the question at Greasley Electronics! John and his team will be able to give an objective electronic assessment and if they can’t help, they will communicate with you as to why not.
To learn more about preventative maintenance click here.
Inspection and testing
These are the three main considerations during the inspection and testing process:
Level of damage
A visual inspection can help determine the level of damage. Greasley’s can often determine what the issue is and whether it can be repaired by an image sent on email, and then advise what the problem might be verbally, and send a quotation. For example, a board that has been exposed to a power surge or intense heat may delaminate. Moreover, traces may melt and components may be destroyed. On the other hand, the level of damage may be limited to a few broken solders due to physical damage or localized electrical or thermal damage. Local electrical or thermal damage may destroy electrical components while leaving the PCB and other components substantially untouched.
Level of rework needed
Delamination, melted traces and widespread component damage may require extensive repair beyond the ability of most electrical engineers to complete in a timely and cost-effective manner. Conversely, re-soldering a component or resetting a PCB pad are simple repairs that can bring the PCB back to specification, except in the case of safety, aeronautical or medical devices.
As pictured here, Greasley Electronics can repair and refurbish badly damaged circuit boards. This was from a yacht and had severe water damage. It’s now running absolutely fine.
Repairing or replacing a PCB is a decision that is based on the priority of factors such as the cost and time needed to repair or replace, as well as the extent of the damage. Objectively measuring these factors can help you make the right choice.